Marketing on a Wish and a Prayer Part 3: Why You Can’t Execute a Marketing Strategy in a Silo
Marketing cannot be executed in a silo. It can’t exist on its own. Rather, marketing strategy development is most effective when the goals and tactics are combined with other functional departments of your business as part of the company’s overall business development strategy. Each department has its own focus, but for marketing to move forward and have the best potential for success, it requires collaboration with other business units.
In this third part of a four-part series, adapted and excerpted from “Marketing on a Wish and a Prayer,” written by Paradigm’s Founder and President, Rachel Durkan, as part of Lessons Beyond the Obvious, we’ll explain what happens when marketing is alienated, and what you can do to effectively incorporate marketing into your long-term business development strategy.
Often small business owners think that marketing is a “nice to have.” In their minds, marketing is nothing more than a TV commercial, a print ad, a web banner, an email or direct mail, or increasingly, a social-media post. They don’t acknowledge that marketing is an organic, ever-changing organism. That we are all walking, talking components of a brand; living, breathing embodiments of the product or service being offered; and our conduct contributes to the success or failure of the brand.
Marketing Is Not Everything
Before he retired, Don was a successful corporate executive with a deep love of music. When a local music-retail operation had fallen on hard times, Don believed fate had presented him with the perfect opportunity to share his passion with the community, and he purchased the business. Along with the retail store, Don incorporated a non-profit component to introduce the importance of musical arts to children and adults alike.
Don, wisely, hired a local marketing agency to help build the store’s brand within its geographic target market and to help drive traffic to the store. In the first 12 months, the store experienced steady growth as the marketing agency worked hard to build the local brand. Through a variety of print and digital touchpoints and the implementation of several smart ideas suggested by Don’s staff – most notably, by his store manager Ivan, who had considerable experience working in many facets of retail, despite having little to no experience running a business or managing employees – the marketing efforts were successfully reaching the target audiences. Brand recognition was growing within the community and traffic to the store was increasing, bringing in many new customers at a rapid pace.
Everything was “humming” along (pun intended), until it wasn’t.
Twelve months in, the store hit a plateau and was falling well shy of its customer-retention goals. And regardless of how many re-acquisition campaigns the agency ran, the returns failed to meet even modest expectations.
In speaking with Don’s staff, the agency discovered that store management was not enforcing many critical aspects of the upsell and cross-sell campaigns that the employees were trained to implement. The agency also interviewed several former customers and sent a secret shopper into the store. What they learned was upsetting: these customers received poor customer service from a few select employees.
Word of mouth can build your business or tear it down. The negative customer reviews quickly spread throughout the community and sullied the store’s otherwise unblemished brand identity. New customers were hard to come by as the market became saturated and existing customers abandoned the store looking for a more pleasant shopping experience elsewhere.
Ivan – acting as Don’s day-to-day eyes and ears – failed to see that successful marketing operates in conjunction with every aspect of a business, and that includes operations (Ivan) and human resources (addressing problem staff). So in recusing himself from the business and handing the reins over to Ivan, Don had put his financial future, his business, and his reputation in jeopardy. Though he trusted Ivan’s motives, he learned the hard way that his success required his input and he could not be completely hands-off.
After a painful dip in sales for six months, Don brought in an operations consultant to help the store get back on track. Over the next six months the store experienced some welcomed employee turnover, giving Ivan the opportunity to hire the right people for the right customer service positions. He also devoted significant time and effort into properly training the employees.
Meanwhile, Don reallocated much of the marketing budget toward customer reacquisition efforts, which slowly brought back many customers who had previously sought greener pastures.
Marketing is not executed in a silo; all aspect of the business must work together to achieve long-term success. Because Ivan failed to act as a reciprocal partner with the marketing agency, the agency was making marketing promises that the operations team failed to keep, and that proved to be a recipe for disaster.
But when marketing and operations began working as a team, Don, Ivan, and the staff were able to change the store’s trajectory, slowly increasing sales and resurrecting the store’s reputation. The music shop is back on track now that management understands the importance of ensuring that every part of the business works together toward the common goal of success.
For help weaving your marketing goals into your own business development strategy, contact Paradigm Marketing and Design to schedule a consultation.